Livestock Reports

Livestock Council Report May 2020

Market Report

  • Latest Beef price update 21/5/2020. Steer base price €3.60/kg. Heifers €3.60/3.70. Young bull’s R/O €3.60/3.70. Cows P/O/R/U €2.90/€3.00/€3.20/kg.
  • This time last year prices were running 25/30c/kg higher.
  • Cattle prices continue to strengthen driven by tighter supplies and strong retail demand. Factories chasing tight supplies, offering deals which include the full cost of transport, removal of weight restrictions and additional price top ups. The supply balance has swung in favour of the farmer.
  • Supplies. Supplies totalled 26,911 for week ending May 17th., down about 5,900 on the same week last year. Kill to date down 31,683 on 2019 levels. Y Bulls are back 30k, steers are up +10k, heifers are down -6k and cows are back -15k. However, when calves are removed, the overall adult kill is back closer to 46,000 head.
  • Numbers over the coming weeks expected to remain tight until the first of the grass cattle set to arrive.
  • Official Prices. DAFM reported Irish R3 steer prices for w/e May 10th was €3.67/kg incl vat. Heifers R3 €3.70/kg. Y Bulls O/R/U €3.33/€3.52/€3.61/kg. Cows P/O/R €2.72/€2.80/€2.99/kg.
  • UK cattle prices for w/e May 10th R3 steers at £3.31/kg, equivalent to €3.92/kg incl vat. R3 heifers at £3.30, equivalent to €3.91/kg and O3 cows at £2.43, equivalent to €2.87 incl vat.
  • Official cattle prices reported to the EU Commission on May 10th 2020. R3 Young Bulls c/kg excl vat; EU Average€3.40/kg, Germany €3.37/kg, France €3.64/kg, Spain €3.46/kg, Austria €3.51/kg Italy €3.67/kg Poland €2.62/kg. Steer Prices; Ireland €3.48/kg, UK €3.76/kg.
  • EU Young bull prices are down 1.84c/kg on the week and EU steers are up 3.3/kg on the previous week, with cows down 2.0c/kg and heifers down 1.0c/kg.
  • The latest Bord Bia Price Tracking data for R3 grades for w/e May 9th.
  • The resumption of some manufacturing plants and some reopening of food service at EU level has helped the trade. The reopening of McDonalds and Supermacs drive-through helped the cow trade.
  • APS. Irish processors applied for only 20 tonnes of APS. Total applications across the EU of 706 tonnes with 400t from Poland, 230t from Holland, 46t from Spain and 10t from Austria.
  • Live Exports. 4,648 cattle were exported in the week commencing 04/5/2020, 3,822 to EU (Except NI). Live exports for 2020 amount to 144,977 compared to 186,276 in 2019.
  • Calf exports of 112,383 year to date.
  • There were considerable difficulties with the Algerian live export trade over recent weeks, involving loading delays, payment difficulties and delays on the first shipment. IFA assisted up to about 15 farmers getting paid in full.
  • When the boat, the MV Sarah returned for the second shipment, difficulties occurred between the exporter and the DAFM on horned cattle, individual weighing and withdrawal periods on medications.
  • Working with the exporter and the DAFM, IFA asked Minister Creed to intervene directly, which he did and all of these issues were subsequently resolved but shipments were delayed and along with TB difficulties on some farms the exporter was unable to proceed and cancelled the shipment. The livestock carrier has left Ireland empty.
  • IFA Payment Policy. Insist on payment on the day, or ensure that you are selling through an outlet where payment is guaranteed or secure.
  • Keep up to date on all IFA work on

Beef Taskforce 

  • Chairman Michael Dowling wrote to IFA this week with an update on the various issues including the Grant Thornton reports into specifications and a breakdown of the beef price across the chain.


  • IFA has called for the marts to be reopened as soon as possible. IFA also pushing for support for the marts.


  • Just over 27,000 farmers applied for the BEEP-S scheme, following an intensive campaign by IFA. It is estimated that some c600,000 cows are involved, which will require funding of c€52m as opposed to the €35m allocated, if a linear cut to the payment rates of €90 per cow on the first 10 and €80 on the remainder are to be avoided.

Support for Beef Farmers

  • Finishers Income. Finishers are still shipping serious losses. IFA will continue to push Minister Creed, the Government and the EU Commission hard to secure a direct payment for finishers to cover the COVID-19 and Brexit related losses on cattle sold this year.
  • At the EU Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels Minister Creed sought exceptional aid for livestock producers under Articles 219 & 221 of CMO due to serious falls in prices. However, IFA is strongly of the view Minister Creed and the EU Commission must secure new money to deal with the COVID crisis.
  • IFA continue to lobby TDs and push Minister Creed and Government for a direct payment scheme to make up for the COVID and Brexit related cattle price losses incurred this Spring, including release of the €24m in unspent BEAM funding to assist beef finishers, who have incurred losses in the order of €200 per head.

Bord Bia Grass Based Beef and PGI status

  • Bord Bia has prepared proposals for an Irish Grass Fed Beef and PGI status application.
    In summary the proposals cover animals who meet the following key criteria;
    • The majority of feed from grass (90% grass or grass forage throughout the animal’s lifetime)
    • Spend greater part of their life grazing (minimum of 220 days per year).
    • Steers and heifers up to 36 months of age, Grade O- or better and fat score 2+ to 4+.
    • Beef cows up to 120 months with conformation of O+ or better and fat score 2+ to 5.
    • Born, reared, finished and slaughtered in the geographical area.

Budget 2021

  • 2019 Brexit Beef Price Losses

In line with the methodology used to calculate BEAM 1, IFA has calculated Brexit related cattle prices losses for beef farmers who sold cattle between May 2019 (when BEAM 1 ended) and December 31 2019.

These calculations compared 2015 cattle prices(pre-Brexit) with 2019 prices.

2019 – Brexit related price losses from May 12th to Dec 31st 2019 (BEAM II) = €160m.

  • 2020 Brexit and COVID-19 Beef Price Losses

Since January 2020 finisher have continued to encounter Brexit related cattle price losses. However, from mid-March finishers were hit with a second wave of COVID-19 market disturbance beef price losses, which compounded their overall losses.

Using the same methodology IFA has calculated the Brexit related and COVID-19 related beef price losses as follow from Jan 1st2020 to May 17th 2020 as follows.

Brexit related price losses: €89.8m

COVID-19 related price losses: €21.2m

Overall Brexit/COVID-19 losses: €111m up to May 17th 2020.

2020 – Brexit and COVID-19 related beef price losses from Jan 1st to May 17th. 2020= €111m.

  • Support for Suckers

The national suckler cow herd of almost 1 million cows is the backbone of Ireland’s beef and livestock sector worth up to €3bn, providing top quality beef to make Ireland the fifth largest beef exporter in the world. The suckler beef sector also delivers essential socio-economic and environmental services and public goods, as well as providing a major carbon sink.

The support schemes for the suckler cow (BDGP and BEEP) have proven to be essential in terms of economic support and in improving efficiencies on environmental performance and delivery.

IFA proposes:

  • Suckler farmers need a targeted payment of €300 per cow, facilitated by a combination of CAP and national funding.
  • For 2020, a total of 27,000 suckler farmers have applied for the BEEP-S scheme, with up to 600,000 cows. At the payment rates of €90 on the first 10 cows and €80 on the remainder, the funding costs of this scheme will be €52m in 2020, as opposed to the €35m allocated in Oct 2019. Therefore, this scheme will need a budget injection of an additional €17m for 2020
  • The last annual payment under the current BDGP scheme is due in Nov/Dec 2020 and the BEEP-S scheme is an annual scheme.
  • For 2021, the IFA is proposing the BDGP is renewed and simplified with funding increased from €45m to €90m pa and the BEEP-S scheme is funded to the tune of €52m pa.
  • This would provide total funding of €142m pa for sucklers and enable payment rates of €290 per cow on the first 10 cows and €250 per cow on the remainder

Activity Since Last Council

  • IFA National Livestock Meeting May 11th.
  • Meetings on line with Minister Coveney on Brexit, DAFM, Live shippers, Factories, Bord Bia, MII, ICBF and others.
  • Intensive IFA lobby of all politicians on the need for EU support on COVID-19 crisis, National support for COVID and Brexit losses, live exports, €300 per suckler cow support and Government formation, the MFF and CAP Budget.
  • Meeting with Bord Bia on Sustainability proposals, which have beef postponed, Grass-fed Beef and PGI status and moving Quality Assurance audits on line.
  • On-going work with marts on re-opening and COVID-19 protocols and procedures.
  • Keep up to date on all IFA work on

Bovine Project

  • IFA is involved with Teagasc, farm organisations and research and advisory bodies across 10 EU member states in an EU funded Innovation network project focused on facilitating improved knowledge exchange and co-ordinated solutions on socio-economic resilience, animal health and welfare, production efficiency and quality and environmentally sustainability.

EU/COPA Developments

  • IFA Submission on beef supports to EU Commission.
  • At European level through our Brussels office and COPA, the relevant EU Commissioners and Commission officials have all been made fully aware of the very difficult situation at farm level in Ireland. In addition, key players from other member states have been briefed with particular focus on the French, Polish and Italians on beef and the French on sheep.
  • Conference call/meetings with;
    • EU DG Agri Markets Director and Commission team
    • Commissioner offices (Agriculture and Trade)
    • COPA Beef Chairman and Secretary
    • FNB – French beef farmers
    • Polish, Belgium, Spanish, Italian beef farmers.

Upcoming Issues/Priorities

  • EU Beef and Sheep Update. Weekly update on email, for distribution to IFA whats app and web on beef and sheep issues and action.
  • Budget 2021 submission and supports for beef farmers and sucklers.
  • Analysis of the EU Green Deal-farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategy launched on May 20th.
  • Stay up to date on the IFA web site.
  • Key Dates; EU Budget, MFF and COVID recovery package on May 27th.
ChairmanBrendan Golden
Director of LivestockKevin Kinsella

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